In a television sneaker advertisement, a series of girls and women complete the sentence "If you let me play " with "I will have more self-confidence" and "I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me."
Yesterday, about 40 girls and their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and adult female friends played basketball, volleyball and duckpin bowling. They took aerobics classes and worked out on weight machines as part of the 10th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Magothy River Middle School in Arnold.
A version of the advertisement distributed on fliers at the school was their inspiration.
Stefanie Hare, an 11-year-old sixth-grader who shot baskets with her mother, Linda Hare, said girls could play sports just as well as boys if they were given the chance.
"Boys get all the sports," Stefanie said. "I think girls should have the chance to play."
Her mother agreed: "I think it helps them with their self-esteem. It shows that they can compete with the guys."
The event, which was organized by Joyce Stefancik, head of the physical education department at Magothy River, was designed to encourage girls to participate in sports to gain self-esteem and learn perseverance, she said.
"We're drawing attention to the positive influences that sports can have on a girl's life," said Ms. Stefancik. "For instance, I think sports teaches kids that they don't always have to win. Just stick to it and do your best."
This is the second time in four years the school has celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
"I came because I thought it would be fun," said 11-year-old Stephanie Jones, a sixth-grader at Magothy River who lifted 50 pounds on a weight machine. "I think it's good for us to do different stuff."
The event helped demonstrate the versatility of girls and women, said Kara Flannery, a 12-year-old seventh-grader.
"It used to be that to be able to do anything, [women] had to stay inside and cook and clean," she said. "This shows that we're not limited in what we can do."